Thursday, July 14, 2022

Today's read... The Chronicles of Deltovia by Olivia Jaimes!

Today's read 'drew' my interest the moment I saw the cover...yep, very bad pun intended. Actually, I picked this up, hoping for a bit of fun and originality. The top sounded promising, "Three friends. Two worlds. One epic notebook." I reminded me a bit of the Wimpy Kid direction? At least, with the notebook and doodling style. Although how does this work with two worlds? Those were the questions running through my head.

But before I babble on, let's just get with it and see if it's worth a read or not.

The Very Genius Notebooks
by Olivia Jaimes
Andrew McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Contemporary
224 pages
ages 8 to 12


Three friends. Two worlds. One epic notebook. Escape into The Chronicles of Deltovia, the greatest story still being written!

Three middle school girls—Misha, June, and Ollie—know their epic fantasy story could be the next Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. The only holdup is they have to write it first. But that’s a trifling concern: they’ve bought a $1.99 composition notebook, and they’re going to pass it back and forth over the course of their 7th grade school year to build the world and characters as a team.

Together they invent and explore the mysterious land of Deltovia, while also writing about what’s going on in their actual middle school lives in the notebook, too. The book's unique format presents each of their daily entries, book chapters, notes, plans, and imaginative world-building, giving readers a firsthand look at the creative process and the fantastical new realm of Deltovia.

This thrilling and irreverent new illustrated novel series about three middle school girls' quest for literary greatness is written and illustrated by Olivia Jaimes, whose fresh reboot of the comic strip Nancy earned praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The AV Club, Slate, and readers across the Internet.

The Chronicles of Deltovia is the first book in her new series, The Very Genius Notebooks, which combines imagination and real-world drama, and delightfully mixes scenes of friendship, fantasy, and middle-grade illustrated novel fun.



Middle school drama bounces around a bubble of fantasy to form a humorous read, which ends in ways a reader can't see coming.

This is a fun read from start to finish. In some ways, it's like a diary/letter with the three friends adding at will. It begins with Misha explaining to the future reader (because this notebook is actually supposed to carry the great novel the three are writing together) why she's convinced her friends to write with her, and how it's going to work. Then, after she starts the 'first chapter' it's handed to June to continue, and then, to Ollie before going back to Misha or whomever the notebook lands at next. While the girls continue to build the story, they keep stopping to add their 'amazing' experiences, thoughts, concerns, or whatever else they feel the need to share. The result is a humorous mix, which bounces back and forth to form a clever read.

So that this never feels fake, the author gives each girl a very distinct font (writing style), illustration style and voice. It's no problem to keep them apart. Misha carries most of it, but then, the novel idea is hers. June is the grounded of the three and constantly tries to keep Misha's more playful-self in check. Ollie, actually, has little to do with anything, but still adds the perfect balance to the other two, when it's most desperately needed. 

While the 'story' hits a fantasy world of magic, evil, and parallel realms, 'real life' nudges it more and more into the background. While there is quite a bit of school drama, there's a lot of off-kilter things going on, too, which almost switch the plot to a tension mystery by the very, very end...but mixed with  humor and silliness even there, too.

The author uses the ridiculous back and forth with doodles and sketches and fantasy tales with magic to weave around hints of friendship problems, jealousy, growing up, fitting in, and more. These are touched upon but never overpower the rest of the fun. Even the unexpected side plots, play here and there with dabs between everything else to cause a never-boring mix. But this also meant that several plot directions ended too quickly and without needed information to give them real sense. The book is a bunch of everything thrown together with a delicious chaos, and the ending matches that in many ways. There are definite holes. Even Ollie never really gains foothold as a true character. While I'd criticize all or this and do wish some strings weren't extremely chopped-to-the-finish and superficial, it actually works with the atmosphere of this book. 

I'm calling this one unique, loved the ride, and do recommend it for middle graders since it's so much fun and does a good job at what it does.

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